Review & Photos | Boston Calling Music Festival | Massachusetts


The second day broke from past lineups by venturing into dance, rap and R&B. Louisiana dance pop band Royal Teeth commenced the festivities on Sunday, with plenty of energy and percussion to get people moving and reward them for arriving early. Boston boys Bearstronaut strike an upbeat balance between analog and digital elements, with '80s rhythms and lounge-singer crooning from David Martineau. Big Black Delta had an unusual onstage visual: crooning lead singer Jonathan Bates backed by his laptop and two drummers, busting out a tricked-out cover of “Bittersweet Symphony.”

Solange came off as a stylistic anomaly in the bill – taking the stage flaunting an Afro and in full retro-soul mode, an old-school song-and-dance artist backed by an old-fashioned band in the middle of a bill dominated by digital gear. Her tight band owned grooves straight from the '70s and '80s, and Solange proved to be a charismatic performer in her own right, demonstrating a dynamic vocal ability and some impressive dance moves and stage presence. She truly held her own amongst the day’s dance and hip-hop giants, proving to have a sizable following once they sang along to the '80s Madonna jam “Losing You.” Considering whose genetic shadow she lives in, the adoration and respect she’s earned from fans and critics becomes all the more impressive.

Rave mode kicked into full gear as DJs took to the stage. DJ sets from Flume and Flosstradamus brought the dubstep with plenty of atonal but rhythmically thumping samples and scratching. DJ Wolfgang Gartner came armed with bone-rattling bass and stinging treble in his loops. Samples ran the gamut from strings and a choir, tribal percussion and the familiar sound of a dial-up modem, by now such an EDM cliché that Gartner’s use of it to introduce his set comes off as self-aware and tongue-in-cheek.

The day’s DJs and bands all worked the crowds quite impressively, but as the day progressed and heavier hitters took the stage, the showmanship and command of the crowd increased. Reggae jocks Major Lazer took theatrics to a new level with twerking dancers, a plastic ball on loan from the Flaming Lips, a costumed mascot and a gun full of confetti. But the music itself beckons the crowd to dance, jump, and mosh, adding dancehall embellishments to club standards like “Jump Around,” “Drop It Like It’s Hot” and “Harlem Shake.” The team equally engaged the audience with chill-out anthem “Get Free,” sung by Amber Coffman of Dirty Projectors.

As red-hot rapper Kendrick Lamar took the stage, each member of the crowd became a hype-man for songs like “Fuckin’ Problems” and “Bitch Don’t Kill My Vibe.” Finally, hometown heroes Passion Pit capped the festival with their signature blend of upbeat, synth-laden melodies, played with the intensity of punk, and carried by the unique falsetto voice of Michael Angelakos. The crowd sang along to the hooks of “The Reeling,” “Carried Away” and other dance-pop gems, a triumphant ending to another star-studded Boston Calling.

[Published on: 9/10/13]

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